A. Miller says, “The Bible endorses slavery…” So-called “progressives” love to talk this way so that the moral authority of Scripture is called into question.
The slavery issue is a huge topic. I agree with Al Mohler: “…the Bible does not sanction race-based chattel slavery as practiced in many parts of the world, America included, throughout history. The Bible does seek to regulate slavery, but there is no way that slavery, gender, and sexuality can be linked as equal issues in terms of biblical interpretation.” For more thoughts about this, you can also go here.
Lisa Miller frames her writing to paint traditionalists as equivalents to pro-slavery and morally backward Americans. She also uses the language of oppression when she says, “All the religious rhetoric, it seems, has been on the side of the gay-marriage opponents, who use Scripture as the foundation for their objections.” So her article tries to gain a little more “market share” of the religious rhetoric. Could the difference in “religious rhetoric” be because the Bible is so clear on God’s intent for marriage?
Aside from a reminder about the deep, biblical roots of America’s abolition movement, I admit that Christians who used the Bible to promote slavery have done great damage to the Faith. (How many ways must America suffer for her sins?) But I contend that the Gospel laid the foundations for undoing slavery in a world of universal slavery. The fact that Americans in the past used the Bible to advocate slavery doesn’t mean that the Bible has no authority.
We can say people were wrong about the Bible, or people misunderstood the Bible.
But that doesn’t mean the Bible is wrong.
Actually, the Christian Abolitionists had a clear Biblical consistency that actually reversed the trends of history!
B. Miller also reminds us that Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon were polygamists.
I can only respond with “So what?”
According to God’s created order in Genesis 1-2, the patriarchs were wrong. And God was gracious. God’s grace is all over the Old Testament. He was calling people out of moral and spiritual darkness–a process that takes centuries, and is still ongoing.
The moral failings of Bible characters does not negate God’s moral will.
This also applies to the issues of divorce, an issue Miller uses to her favor.
Yes, many Christians have divorced. Yes, the church in America has lost its way in standing against divorce. But these failings do not give any religious justification for gay marriage. If anything, these failings show us that we need to strengthen our marriages and abandon our hypocrisies. God is gracious, but repentance is still the Christian’s calling.
Also, I want again to point out Miller’s philosophy of reading. Notice what she says about traditionalists: We “use Scripture as the foundation” of our objections. She seems convinced that we use Scripture the same way she is using Scripture: As a vessel to fill with any meaning we want. It is a foreign idea to Miller that the Scriptures may actually becommunicating something to learn.
Now… If the Bible has no authority for ethical reasoning, I must ask Lisa Miller “Where does the concept of ‘right and wrong” come from?
I suspect she’d say that society determines right and wrong.
But didn’t California’s society just determine “right and wrong” with Proposition 8? Using society as a basis for ethics, Miller–at best–should say, “Gay marriage? We already voted on that and set the societal norm. The gay movement lost. Let’s move on.”
Maybe Miller gets her sense of “right and wrong” from her own heart and mind. If so, I’d remind her that she’s just one vote among millions. And why should we listen to her anyway?